Cameron Neylon's blog

Fireside Chats at the Open Publishing Festival

This is cross-posted from the COKI (Curtin Open Knowedge Initiative) blog. The Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative aims to play a leading role in analysing and reporting on the way higher education institutions provide open access to knowledge and opportunity. COKI was founded at Curtin University in Australia, and collaborates with researchers around the world.


For the past two weeks there has been a very different kind of event running online. The Open Publishing Fest is entirely online, and pretty much entirely decentralized. The concept grew out of conversations between Adam Hyde of the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation and Dan Rudman from Punctum Books, two organisations that in their own way are leading radical change in the scholarly publishing space.

The event grew out of a question. Given the success of the inaugural Open Publishing Awards last year, how could that energy continue in a world where in-person events are limited? From that grew a lightweight and simple approach. People would self-organize sessions and submit them to be added to a calendar.Open Publishing Fest

Last year I had the privilege of chairing the committee that selected the inaugural Open Publishing Awards. We’d expected a fairly niche audience and a small set of nominations but were staggered by the number (over 200) and quality of the nominations. Similarly, with the Open Publishing Fest, there have been over 100 events scheduled involving thousands of people.

The question of what kinds of event and content can work online and virtually have been front of mind for all of us in the COKI project and also for me as part of the steering group for the FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Institute – one of many events that has sought to take the challenge of moving online and turn it into an opportunity. For the Open Publishing Fest, I developed a particular format of Fireside Chat with John Chodacki from the California Digital Library.

In these chats, we’ve focussed on discussions with people doing interesting things in Open Science, and Open Publishing. Focussing on the journey people have taken to their current work adds a human element that I think is of particular value as we look at why they think certain things, or work on particular issues. The choice to ask people to “sit in a comfy chair” has had a profound effect on the atmosphere. The shift away from “person talking to their computer” to “person having a chat” seems to work.

Through this series I’ve spoken to Kamran Naim from CERN about the path that lead him to be Directory of Open Science at the international particle physics facility, Kaitlin Thaney about her history of building up new projects, always focussing on supporting people to build, and how that leads to her current work on Infrastructures for schol comm. I also talked to Amy Brand (Director of MIT Press) and Claudio Aspesi about their recent paper in Science on the risks of data analytics.

John has talked to Ginny Hendricks from Crossref about Metadata2020, Bruce Caron about preprints and community building in the gosciences and Silvio Peroni and David Shotton about Open Citations.

Cameron Neylon

FORCE11 Member since January 25, 2012
  • Organization/Institution: Curtin University


Cameron Neylon is a freelance researcher, consultant and is an advocate of open research practice who has always worked in interdisciplinary areas of research. He has previously been Advocacy Director at PLOS (the Public Library of Science), a Senior Scientist at the STFC Isis Neutron and Muon Facility and tenured faculty at the University of Southampton. Along his earlier work in structural biology and biophysics his research and writing focuses on the interface of web technology with science and the successful (and unsuccessful) application of generic and specially designed tools in the academic research environment. He is a co-author of the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science and the Altmetrics Manifesto, and writes regularly on the social, technical, and policy issues of open research at his blog, Science in the Open.